Each year, Farm Aid board members Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews and Margo Price host a Farm Aid festival to bring together a wide variety of artists, farmers and fans for one mission: keeping family farmers on the land.
Farm Aid 2021 was held last weekend, on Saturday September 25th in Hartford, Connecticut and Vermont’s own Salvation Farms was invited to participate in the Festival’s HOMEGROWN Village. Farm Aid says “The HOMEGROWN Village is like a mini festival within a festival! In the Village, festival-goers explore hands-on activities that engage all of their senses in the Farm Aid mission.”
Salvation Farms’ HOMEGROWN Village exhibit provided a glimpse into what nutritious food that doesn’t make it to your plate looks like, while helping folks visualize what re-localized food systems in the United States could look like if we used the estimated 34 billion pounds of edible produce that remain on farms unharvested, unsold, and uneaten annually in this country.
“Our exhibit evoked curiosity by helping folks visualize what food loss on farms in America looks like. We guided festival-goers through exploring the shocking reality that America is leaving an estimated 21% of edible produce on farms across the nation. We engaged in discussions around what role this food can play to better prepare the nation to feed itself by rebuilding regional, shorter supply chains,” Theresa Snow, Salvation Farms’ founder and Executive Director explained. “It was such an honor to be a part of Farm Aid and to engage others in critical conversations about farming and how we choose to feed ourselves.”
Salvation Farms exhibit was alive and colorful – made up of surplus produce, a display similar to what one might see at a farmers’ market. This covered the 6-foot table provided by Farm Aid. Bookending the produce display were vertical banners that include food loss on farms statistics, farmer recommendations for reducing food loss on farms, and images of the farm surplus management strategies Salvation Farms has modeled and instituted in Vermont. Behind the exhibit was a banner reading “What if we ate more of what we grew?” On the table among the surplus produce were smaller signs to get festival-goers thinking, “food loss is not the farmers fault” and “why was this produce never going to make it to someone’s plate?”
To learn more about Salvation Farms, www.salvationfarms.org. To learn more about Farm Aid, www.farmaid.org.